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South Korean residents near North Korea border request removal of loudspeakers

Seoul’s Defense Ministry said around 100 residents had signed a petition requesting the transfer of the propaganda loudspeakers to another location.

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korean residents near North Korea border request removal of loudspeakers
South Korean soldiers dismantle loudspeakers near the demilitarized zone after Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to defuse tensions at the border. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- South Korean residents of a border region near the demilitarized zone have requested propaganda loudspeakers in their community be moved elsewhere – but the instrument has played a key role in North-South negotiations, according to analysts.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said around 100 residents of Ganghwa county in the city of Incheon had signed a petition requesting the transfer of the propaganda loudspeakers to another location on Monday, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported.

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South Korea's military has installed loudspeakers at 11 locations but the facility on Gyodong Island directly below the maritime Northern Limit Line is reportedly closest to a residential area.

Seoul said the petition that was delivered to the Defense Ministry just a week after a landmark deal was reached between North and South is the first of its kind.

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Seoul had agreed to stop loudspeaker broadcasts after Pyongyang expressed "regret" for land mine explosions inside the DMZ that critically injured two South Korean soldiers.

A South Korean military official said the residents in Ganghwa were worried about the threat of North Korean retaliation in the aftermath of increased tensions that drew closer to war before officials met to end hostilities. The official also said the Defense Ministry would take the petition into consideration and look for ways to move the loudspeakers to another location.

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The loudspeaker broadcasts were a major point at issue between North and South before tensions subsided but the strategy worked according to Victor Cha, the Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, because the broadcasts targeted the weaknesses of Kim Jong Un's regime.

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In a similar vein Lee Seong-hun of Korean National Defense University said in a recently published paper that the most effective method of suppressing North Korean provocations was through the use of immaterial resources that target the needs and interests of Kim's regime, Yonhap reported.

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